The Ontario Restaurant, Hotel, and Motel Association has issued a statement recommending policy inclusion of mandatory vaccinations for hospitality employees.
“ORHMA, in its role as an industry association… recommends the policy inclusion of mandated vaccination for Ontario’s hospitality workers with exception of those employees experiencing medical issues in which case they should be medically and frequently tested for the virus,” says the association.
In the issuance, the association notes there has been intense discussion and member feedback with respect to making vaccinations mandatory. The government has not provided direction to date on mandatory vaccinations and ORHMA says it continues to be “flooded with enquiries”.
Medical experts are reiterating that vaccinations are the key defence against COVID-19, but that a relatively high percentage of the Ontario population remains unvaccinated.
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“While Canada and Ontario have done a good job in vaccinating their citizens, we still have a long way to achieve vaccination for the entire population,” notes ORHMA. The association notes the delta variant of the virus has again affected the safety of global destinations.
In Ontario, it says, much of the public is losing confidence in going out and, particularly, eating indoors. Simultaneously, the hospitality and foodservice industries fear future business lockdowns. More importantly, ORHMA notes, there has been an escalation of safety concerns of employees who are working with unvaccinated colleagues in a workplace environment that requires constant engagement.
While vaccine passports are beginning to spread across multiple provinces, preventing people from dining indoors or, in some cases, outdoors unless they have been vaccinated, this is not a one-size-fits-all model to complete safety.
ORHMA stresses that the most effective way to limit exposure to COVID-19 is to avoid interactions outside of health and safety measures, “which make it impossible for hospitality operations to follow”. It adds that the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Employment Standard Act (ESA) do not directly address vaccination or the enforcement of employer vaccination policies for workers.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers are obliged to take every reasonable precaution necessary in protecting their workers, but employers must also understand the implications such as Human Rights and Accessibility.
There are many ways employers can encourage and promote the vaccine to their workers, and the number of employers in Ontario introducing mandatory vaccinations for employees is growing.